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China denies telling NBA to fire exec over Hong Kong tweet


Agence France-Presse

China denied Friday that it demanded that the NBA fire a Houston Rockets executive over a tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters refusing to air the games and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the basketball league was also “being asked to fire him (Morey) by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business.”

Asked whether Beijing pressured the NBA to fire Morey, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing on Friday: “The Chinese government has never raised these kinds of demands.”